Ghostbusters – Beyond premiered today in movie theaters in Brazil and around the world. The film is a direct continuation of the beloved adventures of the 1980s and officially counts as the third and belated part planned to open after 1989, but which for three decades never left the paper. The entire original cast (well, the ones still alive) return for a much-anticipated (and delayed) passing of the baton. The focus of the new film is not the veterans we’ve come to love in these 37 years (now all in their late 70s), but rather the younger generation, hitchhiking in the style of film that was so popular in the 80s: adventures starring children and pre-teens. Stranger Things, Netflix’s extremely popular program, bathes in this fountain to achieve its success.
To get into the mood of the long-awaited new adventure that rescues not only the franchise in all its glory, but also the spirit of the 80s, we’ve decided to revisit the absolute classic that started it all and go back to 1984. So grab your backpack from protons, assemble the gang and get ready to go back hunting ghosts for an incredibly nostalgic journey. Check it out below.
It’s very interesting to think about how some timeless works influenced others that became equally iconic. And to think that its existence is entirely linked to this previous one. See the case of Indiana Jones, for example, whose existence refers directly to the fact that the director Steven Spielberg want to run a spy adventure 007 no cinema. George Lucas, his colleague, then created something “in the same mold” for Spielberg to put that wish aside. With The ghost hunters, one of the most beloved and remembered movies of the 80s, the same occurs. It was the filmmaker’s wish Ivan Reitman in adapting to the cinema a comedy, fantasy and science fiction story that led him to this super production. It turns out that Reitman, at the time, was pulling his own version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 1982, with three scripts written by the creator Douglas Adams. The curious thing is that Reitman already aimed Bill Murray e Dan Aykroyd for the main roles. The project fell apart and Reitman embarked on The ghost hunters.
The idea, of course, came from the actor’s mind Dan Aykroyd, a true fan of ghosts, hauntings and the supernatural. Aykroyd’s hallucinated original story, however, was almost insurmountable for the screen. You see: initially, the plot would take place in the future, where ghost hunters would be a fully functioning government institution, like the police or firefighters. These professionals would be spread out in their bases throughout the country and even outside the planet, with intergalactic adventures and by time (such as Back to the future). This “hallucinogenic trip” was soon cut by Columbia Pictures (Sony), the studio responsible for buying the script, which brought Ivan Reitman e Harold Ramis to center the story on the ground and create something on a smaller scale. According to them, if they hadn’t changed, production would have cost something around US$300 million, even in 1984.
Another change was the option for an origin story, an element brought by director Reitman. In Aykroyd’s text, the first scene would already show the Ghostbusters car leaving the building to fight hauntings, with the heroes already established. Reitman believed that a greater connection with the audience would be created if it was shown on screen how it all started for these guys. The title was another hurdle for the production. Besides the doubt for similar titles, such as “Ghost Smashers” (Aykroyd’s option), “Ghost Stoppers” and “Ghost Blasters”, when they finally decided on “GhostBusters”, the filmmakers learned in the worst way the name had ever been registered earlier and there began a veritable legal battle to secure the trademark.
The record of that title belonged to a 1975 comedy series, which tried to hitch a ride on macabre hits like The Addams Family e The monsters, but that only lasted a season of 15 episodes. Made by Lou Scheimer, the guy who would eventually create the animation studio Filmation (responsible for several hits from the 80s, such as He-Man), the program would be transformed into an animated series of the same name in 1986 (known in Brazil as The ghosts). This is the reason why many children in the 80s were confused when they noticed two drawings of Ghostbusters in season. The animation based on the movie The ghost hunters had to be dubbed “The Real Ghostbusters” by the show’s producers. Both debuted in 1986.
This is another curious point about the result of the original 1984 film. The production was aimed at an adult audience, and the cast and filmmakers were very surprised to find that the children had fully embraced the concept – perceiving the film as “scientists fighting enemies supernaturals with cool futuristic weapons”. It was this new audience discovered after the release of the original that led to the cartoon two years later, and that made the sequel Ghostbusters 2 (1989) eliminate adult elements, such as cutting the characters’ cigarettes, something very visible in the original. Particularly, the factor that draws most attention in the film to this one that speaks to you is the vein of entrepreneurship that it addresses, when three guys lose their jobs and decide to invest all their money in starting their own business – which works very well, becoming a sensation from night to day.
Another film that had a strong influence on the creation of The ghost hunters was the stickface brothers (1980), hit by Universal Pictures. I explain. With the success of such a film, the protagonists Dan Aykroyd e John Belushi (who had previously worked together on Spielberg’s comedy, 1941 – A Very Mad War, in 1979) became friends and went on to star in neighbor strangers in 1981. Thus, when Aykroyd thought of the script for The ghost hunters, had no doubts when creating the character of stick guy Peter Venkman for his friend. While writing the script, however, the worst happened and Belushi would die a drug overdose victim in 1982 – before the film came out of paper. However, we can consider that Belushi is still in the film, as the greedy and crazy actor was the inspiration for one of the biggest symbols of the franchise, the greenish ghost “Slimer” (Jelly in Brazil). Behind the scenes, Aykroyd only referred to the creature as “the ghost of John Belushi” (especially in his character from Scoundrel Club, 1978).
Thus began a search for the lead role of Venkman, a gap left open after Belushi’s death. Several actors were considered and offered the role. Tom Hanks e Robin Williams were considered, and Steve Guttenberg refused the role to go star Police madness, released the same year (with the actor returning for three of the sequels). Others who refused were Chevy Chase (frustrated vacation), arguing that the filmed script was not the original, which he refused, as it was much darker and scarier; and Michael Keaton (who would later star as Beetlejuice and Batman). So the paper fell into the lap of Bill Murray. However, the comedian only accepted with a binding agreement that Columbia would have to produce the remake of The Razor’s Edge for him to star (a personal project of the actor). Ironically, released in the same year we can ask “who is The Razor’s Edge in the bread line” near The ghost hunters, as one would become an immortal hit and the other would be unceremoniously swept under the rug.
With protagonist, director, and co-star (Aykroyd was the only one of the cast who was ever on board) chosen, the other cast members were beginning to take shape. For the role of cerebral Egon Spengler, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, John Lithgow e Christopher Walken were considered, but the role would end up in the hands of one of the screenwriters of the film, the also director Harold Ramis. Rounding out the main quartet, the only black Ghostbusters on the team, Winston Zedmore, had been raised with the sensation Eddie Murphy in mind – with whom Aykroyd had worked on the famous comedy of the previous year changing the balls (1983). Murphy eventually ended up jumping out of the project to go star alone. A Heavyweight Cop, released in the same year and that turned him into a star. When the star came out, Ernie Hudson was signed, however, the role was substantially reduced in the film, with the character joining the crew after 40 minutes of screening. Since then, Hudson has always maintained a love-hate relationship with the character, knowing what he should have been, and at times defines himself in the role as “a last minute replacement for Eddie Muprhy”.
Closing the main cast, a then young and unknown Julia Roberts auditioned for Dana, a character who eventually ended up in the hands of Sigourney Weaver; and the inconvenient neighbor Louis Tully would have the good-natured forms John Candy – who wanted to create it with a German accent. As we know well, the character would be immortalized in the forms of the short one Rick Moranis.
The ghost hunters was released on June 8, 1984 in the US, arriving in Brazil on December 20 of the same year. That weekend, the film would face competition from the then-ranking kings Star Trek 3 – Searching for Spock e Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and another big debut with Gremlins. But there wasn’t for anyone that week. The ghost hunters was the absolute leader of the box office and would remain in first place throughout the months of June and July, without giving a chance to other beloved icons of the time such as Kid Kid, Conan – The Destroyer, The Last Star Warrior e The Neverending Story.
The ghost hunters would become the most profitable comedy in cinema until the opening of They forgot me in 1990, the thirty-second highest-grossing film of all time (adjusting inflation values) and Columbia Pictures’ highest grossing film of all time – again readjusting the values of the time.